I never liked school as a kid. As an adult, however, I love taking all sorts of classes that take my mind off of daily obligations. With school starting again, there’s no better time to build career skills, meet like-minded neighbors, explore extracurricular passions, and just plain enjoy yourself. This guide only scratches the surface of the wide range of classes, programs and lectures that exist in Park Slope. Use it as inspiration for further research!
Prospect Park Tennis
www.prospectpark.org/visit/activities/tennis • 718-436-2500
The Prospect Park Tennis Center offers classes for both adults and kids. Contact the park for details and pricing for group and individual classes.
Pop Quiz: What movie is set in Park Slope and starts with a mean game of tennis?
Answer: “The Squid and the Whale.”
www.bootcamprepublic.com • 646-460-6787
This green-friendly boot camp uses the environment and people’s own body weight to get in shape. Classes often take place in picturesque venues such as local parks, river promenades and beaches. Three-week boot camp sessions costs $250 and include nine hours of training.
Bonus Point: Bootcamp Republic has generously offered readers a 30% discount by signing up at www.bootcamprepublic.com and entering the capital-sensitive code: PSREADER. This code will expire 30 days after publication and is valid for outdoor or indoor sessions through December 2010.
Captain Quinn’s Fitness Boot Camp
www.captainquinnsbootcamp.com • 888-850-1674
This group exercise class “combines the camaraderie and results of military-style group workouts with school yard fun,” according to Jon Quinn, an Air Force veteran and the boot camp’s fearless leader. A typical 45-minute workout costs $10-15/session. Also ask about supplemental nutrition coaching, advanced training, and online programs.
“Paychecks don’t motivate me to get up at 5 a.m. every morning,” says Jon. “It’s about the joy of helping one person at a time, one class at a time, one day at a time to get healthier, happier, and yes: ‘hotter.’”
Take Me To The Water
takemetothewater.com • 212-371-9500
This swim school offers private and small-group lessons, warm pools and expert instructors with years of teaching experience. This semester will be held at the Berkley-Carroll School, which has a four-lane, 25-yard pool. Classes are held Saturday afternoons from September 25 through December 18.
Pop Quiz: Who said, “it’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked.” (1) Tony Blair, (2) Michael Phelps, (3) Warren Buffet, (4) David Mamet.
Answer: Warren Buffet.
Yee’s Hung Ga
At this martial arts studio, students learn the southern style of Chinese kung fu called Hung Ga, as well as “Yang style Tai Chi Chuan,” which focuses on slow, graceful movements that cultivate Qi (energy). Yee’s has taught traditional Chinese martial arts in Park Slope for over 15 years. Classes are available for both adults and children.
Pop Quiz: What was the original meaning “grandmaster” when it entered the English language?
Answer: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it meant “the chief officer of a royal household.”
The Mind and Spirit
brooklynbrainery.com • twitter : @bkbrains
Wikipedia takes on human form at the Brooklyn Brainery, which organizes courses that its Web site says “don’t have real teachers.” Classes are highly collaborative; participants share their knowledge and experiences, and are guided by amateur experts or enthusiasts who keep courses on track. The 90-minute classes run for either two or four weeks and generally cost $25.
“Some of our most popular classes have been on perfume and anything related to food or drinks,” says Brooklyn Brainery’s co-founder Jen Messier. “ We’re about to start a class on coffee, which has been super popular, and last semester we did a seasonal cooking class that sold out in about two hours.”
Vajadhara Meditation Center
www.brooklynmeditation.org • 347-715-6999
Learn about meditation and Buddhist teachings. Get started with Vajradhara’s free, introductory talk “Meditation, Enjoyment and the Spiritual Path” on September 9. General classes cost $12 and are structured by an introductory guided meditation and talk, Q&A session and concluding meditation. The center itself has a small bookstore, Buddhist shrine and lounge area for socializing.
“The teachings themselves are presented in a practical, down-to-earth and lighthearted fashion,” says resident teacher Matthew Riechers. “This sometimes has a profound effect on people’s minds as they find themselves encountering a living spiritual tradition that meets them right where they are.”
Healing Reiki Energy
www.healingreikienergy.com • 917-375-7144 or 914-907-2037
Become a Reiki practitioner. Students at this school learn Japanese techniques to reduce stress, induce relaxation and promote healing. Reiki I and II are the most highly attended classes. The “Crystal Healing Workshop” is also popular. The instructors have used Reiki to center children’s energy, calm animals, treat veterans suffering from PTSD and promote spiritual well-being.
HRE’s master teacher Kristin Reed describes Reiki as “the ‘laying on of hands’ to balance the energy system of the body and can be used for self-healing or the healing and relaxation of another person. Although Reiki is a spiritual practice, it is not a religion and can complement whatever spiritual beliefs you hold and can do no harm.” »
Brooklyn-Queens Conservatory of Music
www.bqcm.org • 718-622-3300, ext. 0
Have all sorts of fun at this music school, which offers everything from classical music lessons to R&B vocal workshops and classes on African drumming, music and computers, and music therapy professional development (offered in spring). The jazz vocal workshops and tango classes are especially popular.
“Our building is a Victorian house, it is very cool looking and quite stunning,” says marketing manager Lucy Walters. “It is fun to run up and down the large staircases. The concert hall is a great size, wonderful to see live music because it is intimate. We have a great garden where people come to hang out, which is very relaxed and beautiful when the cherry blossoms come out.”
Textile Arts Center
www.textileartscenter.com • 718-369-0222
Come here to learn and refine weaving, screen-printing, dyeing, embroidery, sewing, quilting, fashion illustration, and felting skills. This weaving studio houses 29 multi-harness floor-looms and 16 table-looms, as well as a fully equipped “surface design lab” for screen-printing and dyeing. Course costs range from $175 to $350 with materials.
This is a new business for Park Slope. “As we get our feet on the ground and plant roots in the neighborhood, we want people to get involved,” says owning partner Owyn Ruck. “We love meeting new people, experienced or novice, and getting involved with everyone who has interest!”
Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop
Look no further for courses on fiction, novel, nonfiction, and poetry writing. Sackett Street also offers MFA Application Prep Workshops, which are especially popular during the fall MFA application season. Last year, more than thirty MFA Workshop participants found acceptance at programs. Sackett Street workshops are limited to eight writers and meet in instructors’ home, lending a “salon” atmosphere to the classes.
Pop Quiz: Which of the following did not make “The Atlantic’s” list of top-ten creative writing graduate programs? (1) Boston University, (2) Brooklyn College, (3) Florida State University, (4) Cornell University.
Answer: Brooklyn College, but it made one of the “five up-and-coming programs.”
Purple Kale Kitchenworks
Chef and owner Ronna Welsh organizes workshops and classes for those wishing to cook more frequently, frugally, thoughtfully at home. She also targets those who view cooking as a chore or anxiety-inducing exercise. Group workshops take place in a Brooklyn brownstone, with sessions spent around an old French farm table or surrounding a wooden chopping block near a modest stove. Also available: at-home small group classes, individual instruction, and workshops.
Pop Quiz: How often do New Yorkers dine out each week?
Answer: An average of 3.0 times per week according to Zagat’s 2010 New York City Restaurant survey of 38,869 local diners.
Spoke the Hub
www.spokethehub.org • 718-408-3234
Artistic director and founder Elise Long calls this eclectic center a “multi-purpose” arts and wellness organization. Classes are wonderfully affordable and range from Pilates instruction focused on back pain to “Hand-Hooked Rugs,” “Candle Making and Beeswax Decoration,” “Your Art on the Internet,” and a cardiodance-strength-and-stretch class called “Macho Girls Super (Fun) Workout.”
One student surprised founder Elise Long when he said he’d “astonished his doctor because he measured in two inches taller than his previous check-up – this was just from taking my ‘Men’s Workout’ for a year, where we concentrated on posture, flexibility and general fitness. “
Ellen Chuse Childbirth
www.ellenchusechildbirth.com • 718-789-1981
Ellen Chuse has an impressive resume and has offered childbirth classes in Park Slope since 1989. Classes meet in her home on Dean Street and cover topics such as labor, birth, breastfeeding and newborn care. The cost is $375 per couple, with a cap of eight couples.
Ellen says that her classes “are known for creating a wonderful sense of community for her students while providing the tools for them to move through the process of labor, birth and new parenthood with confidence.”
Birth Day Presence
www.birthdaypresence.net • 917-751-6579
Take classes here for physical and emotional assistance before, during and after childbirth, including postpartum support and professional birth photography. The company is owned by two Park Slope moms, doulas and childbirth educators.
According to co-Director Jada Shapiro, students often “thank us for creating the space to spend enjoyable time with their partners and with the other couples in the classes. Many of our students end up becoming friends for years.”
This well-known sex shop offers workshops as well as toys! The fall workshops range from “The Art of the Blow Job” on November 14 (a popular workshop in previous seasons) to “Hit the G Spot” (September 12, $35), “Sex During and After Pregnancy” (September 28, free), and “Kinky Crafting: Ho-Ho-Ho-Holiday Cards” (December 7, free).
Pamela Doan, Babeland’s public relations director, explains that many people come to the class “feeling apprehensive about what to expect, and they appreciated the ease and comfortableness of the class. They love the role play; it’s an informative and engaging experience.”
www.makeville.com • 917-873-5542
Come here to try shop-class again as an adult. Popular classes include “Getting Started in Furniture Making” and the “Workshop Certification,” (certified students can pay reasonable space rental rates and build projects on their own). A relatively new class called “Bent Lamination Workshop: Make an Eames-Style Chair” is also available.
Owner Robyn Mierzwa feels that many come to Makeville seeking “the unique feeling of satisfaction and creativity that comes with making something with your own hands … people are looking for alternatives to their increasingly ‘virtual’ ways of living, socializing and working.”
Matter of Heart Organizing
www.matterofheartorganizing.com • 917-449-4402
If you struggle with clearing and organizing space, the fall group workshop “I’m Ready to Let Go of Clutter” combines education and opportunities to map out and follow a personalized action plan. Workshops are facilitated by Elizabeth Quincy, a professional organizer who has been featured on Martha Stewart Living radio and as a guest expert on best-selling author Victoria Moran’s teleclass “Come Into Your Own” in 2009 and 2010.
Pop Quiz: Which of the following words is British slang for something that is useless, junk, trash? (1) Dekko, (2) Duff, (3) Bomb, (4) Flutter.
Answer: Duff. It describes a person or object that doesn’t do the job it was intended for. For example, “that politician is duff!”
Brooklyn Botanical Garden
This venerable institution’s educational programs include the popular “edible” series, as well as fall classes on foraging and food preservation, rose gardening, preventing/managing rat infestations, and the “Certificate in Horticulture.” For those contemplating new careers in horticulture or floral design, this is a great place to start.
When asked about the garden’s instructors, continuing education coordinator Rachel Ferm said, “they are all very passionate about what they teach, be it soil chemistry, floral design, botanical watercolor painting, garden maintenance, photography—you name it!”